Hunger cravings are viewed as a derailment to any healthy diet–you eat well all week only and then suddenly are hit with a craving for a slice of pizza or an ice cream sundae (or any other fattening treat), and then beat yourself up for indulging. As a matter of fact, if you know how to control your cravings, they aren’t such a bad thing. It’s more beneficial to your diet (and your overall sanity) to give into hunger cravings from time to time. A life without your favorite foods every now and again is no fun. Here are some times when you should give in to hunger cravings.
When You Really, Really Want Something
You can tell the difference between “kind of” wanting something and those “I can’t go on until I eat this” uncontrollable kind of cravings. Aim to give in less to the “kind of” situations and wait for the big cravings. If you’re craving something sweet, for example, think about exactly what it is you want. Don’t settle for anything less than that. You’re better off waiting until you get home to have a small cup of your favorite ice cream than you are hitting up the local coffee shop for a so-so cookie or pastry.
After You’ve Been Good
It’s rare that a person can sustain on salad, lean means and various fruits and vegetables for too long without eventually wanting to indulge in something a bit more caloric. If you’ve gone all week (or even just several days–it all depends on your goals and personal eating habits), eating well and avoiding junk foods, it’s okay to give into your cravings. The key is to space them out. Enjoying a cheeseburger and fries or your mom’s homemade three cheese macaroni once a week is giving into a craving, whereas eating them every other day is making them staples in your diet. Aim to eat as well as you can for as long as you can before giving in.
After You’ve Waited 15 Minutes or Longer
For those little cravings that spring up, such as a craving for a piece of chocolate or a handful of salty chips, wait at least 15 minutes before allowing yourself to eat them. You’ll know you really want the food if the hunger craving persists after 15 minutes. The same goes for seconds on dinner or dessert. Immediately after cleaning your plate, you’ll probably want more. Sit and sip on your water and wait for 15 minutes to see if you’re still up for seconds. Chances are, you won’t be unless you’re truly hungry.
Cravings are more satisfying when we indulge in them only occasionally. When you wait to eat something that you really savor, like a meal from your favorite restaurant or a homemade dessert, you’ll be much more motivated to carry on with your healthy diet. Think of cravings as a reward for a job well done. Don’t give into them all of the time.